Stop Over-policing in East Jerusalem
Yesterday (6/11/2019) we wrote to the Attorney General asking him to examine and restrain the conduct of the police as seen in the Issawiya neighborhood of Jerusalem over recent months. Since June, the situation in Issawiya has been intolerable. Day after day, night after night, Special Patrol Unit and Border Police forces enter the neighborhood, patrolling the streets, haranguing youths, invading homes, ordering shops to close, blocking roads, handing out incessant tickets, and conducting arrests, many of which prove to be spurious. Any action by the residents that is perceived as provocative (of course, the residents do not welcome the forces with rice and flowers, and they do at times throw stones) is met with sponge-tipped bullets and tear gas.
In our letter, we asked what purpose this hard-line policy serves, given that it has already been tried and failed. We protested the use of Special Patrol Unit and Border Police forces in Issawiya instead of regular “blue” police officers (contrary to the model for operations in East Jerusalem neighborhoods introduced by the previous district commander in an attempt to calm the situation).
We added: “The police policy in Issawiya and the over-policing operations did not emerge in a vacuum. No-one denies that the function of the police is to maintain law and order. However, the police has access to various tools for coping with disturbances and locating offenders. Daily and systematic over-policing directed at thousands of people, most of whom have never thrown a stone in their life, along with waves of detentions, intimidation, and the firing of sponge-tipped bullets, gas, and stun grenades, are not legitimate means for imposing law and order. This policy serves only to exacerbate the confrontations and to foment, in itself causing disturbances, while using means intended to punish, humiliate, and oppress an entire population that is mostly innocent of any crime.”